Daniel Blacksberg: Bit Heads (2010)
"Fanfare for a Scrambled Race" opens the set with a crumpled dexterity, the foreshortened nature of Blacksberg's phrases recalling some of Moncur's late '60s free work (as on the piece "Exploration," from the 1969 BYG LP New Africa), as well as an incisive narrowness gleaned from a lineage of post-Don Cherryfree trumpeters. The ballad "Just Shy of Hope" is wistful leaderless dusk, low-angled bass thrum and lackadaisical brush accents shading around the trombonist's drifting sighs and moans. A guttural, vocal snatch of bluesiness arises from the rhythm section's distracted patter and burble, drawn out into cutting lines that give the nod to a much older brass tradition. Metallic dabs from Szekely and Barrios' rubbery pizzicato are a perfect complement to the leader's waxy plunger exposition on "The Elastic Character," gutsy trio-logue in continual micro-bursts that culminate in buzzing multiphonics. All of the pieces here are fairly short, with only two much over the five minute mark, and there's not an extraordinary development of improvisational storytellingindeed, the improvisations are more like vignettes of action, filled with presence and conversation rather than an overarching scheme.
That said, the two longer pieces do satisfy and the threesome gets into some heavy playing"Combing the Post-Apocalypse" features some nasty whining arco bass, mirrored by throaty brass hum and extended linear blat, which slowly develops into an icily quixotic slink, supported by Szekely's knitted airy accents. The closing "Shot to the End" rides on surges of rattling energy, percussive shades of Sunny Murrayand Sven-Ake Johansson propelling short swaggers and muted gnawing as the trio alternates between staccato detour and jumbled walk. Bit Heads is an impressive debut from a trio that espouses a dry and knotty playing field.
Track Listing: Fanfare For A Scrambled Race; Just Shy Of Hope; The Elastic Character; At Least Understanding; From the Chamber; Combing The Postapocalypse; Deforestation; The Closer; Shot To The End.
Personnel: Daniel Blacksberg: trombone; John Barrios: bass; Mike Szekely: drums.
Record Label: NoBusiness Records
Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde